Drive safe as North Dakota begins to reopen this weekend


The North Dakota Highway Patrol has seen a decrease in traffic counts due to COVID-19. But, with Governor Doug Burgum’s executive orders ending, which closed some of the state’s business sectors, the Highway Patrol expects to see those number trend back up this weekend—albeit in a safe way.

As an agency, the North Dakota Highway Patrol will be putting a few extra cars on the road this weekend, Captain Bryan Niewind, of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, told WZFG Radio on The Nightly Review on Thursday.

“We are going to try and be a deterrent to those who might want to go out and have a good time,” Niewind says. “We want everyone to have a safe and fun weekend, but to do it smart.”

Niewind says it’s the Highway Patrol’s goal to try and get drivers off the road before they harm themselves, or even worse, somebody else. One of those concerns stems from drinking and driving.

Last year, the North Dakota Highway Patrol says 42 percent of the fatal crashes in North Dakota were alcohol related. But, Niewind says, “it’s a choice to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

With the state’s alcohol establishments closed since March, Niewind says the state has seen DUI number drop statewide. But, with the state now opening back up the establishments, now is the time to try and reduce the numbers.

Some communities statewide require server training, but Niewind cautions that server training is not a state-mandated program. There is a law, however, that says bars should not overserve alcohol to people.

As drivers head back to the roadways, Niewind reminds them to drive safe.

“We’ve seen a lot of higher speeds,” he says. “In fact, we’ve seen rates of 100 miles per hour plus.”